What is your full name and title? And how long have you been in this role?
Seamus Kotyk, assistant coach/goalie coach with the Sault Ste. Marie (Soo) Greyhounds Ontario Hockey League Team. This is my third season with the team.
What exactly do you do?
I am a former goalie so I’m in charge of our goalies’ development. I run specific practices that enhance their technical abilities and help them with all aspects of the game. I assist my head coach and other assistant coach in preparing practices and running our team. During games I am on the bench helping look at our opponent’s tendencies and how we can defend against them better. I help with the editing of our games on the computer for teaching purposes. On road trips, I help co-ordinate meals for the team. We are a small staff and each of us does a lot of everything to make our team run.
Describe what you do on any given day.
We meet first thing in the morning as a staff, go over any pressing issues such as potential trades, line-up changes, players’ schooling. If it’s the day after a game we’ll watch the game tape as a staff for teaching purposes and put together notes. We map out practice and what we want to achieve that day. Practice is mid-afternoon for about two hours. After practice we will debrief and plan the next day.
What's your background and education?
I played goalie for my whole life. My junior career was played with the Ottawa 67’s (four years) where I was fortunate enough to win a Memorial Cup. I was drafted by the Boston Bruins and signed a contract with the San Jose Sharks. I played five seasons in the AHL (American Hockey League in Cleveland, Milwaukee and Houston) and was fortunate enough to back up a few games with San Jose. My career took me to Europe where I split my first season between Wolfsburg, Germany and Jesenice, Slovenia, then I spent three years in Innsbruck, Austria. I have taken several coaching courses and seminars.
How did you get to your position?
The Soo Greyhounds are my hometown team. I was preparing to go back to play another season in Europe but I didn’t have a contract. It was late summer when I received a call from the GM of the Soo Greyhounds offering me the position. I took some time to think it over because at the moment my thoughts were about playing. After a few days I was more excited about the thought of coaching then heading back to Europe so I knew it was time to make the switch.
What’s the best part of your job? And what do you like best about it?
Aside from being able to still be a part of a team and remain in the hockey environment, in the OHL the kids are still very raw. Being able to help them develop and seeing the progression of their talents and abilities is a rewarding feeling. You’re also helping shape them into young men and it’s touching to see their maturity and life skills grow.
What’s the worst part of your job?
Having to release or trade a player is tough. There is no easy way to go about this. Players can get emotional when this happens and isn’t easy to see. This is part of the game that is hard and not seen by many.
What are your strengths in this role? What do you need to be able to do to handle your job?
I would like to believe that I am able to communicate well, because information is key. I can understand where the players are coming from with their personal goals and what they are going through on a daily basis as I am a former OHL player. I bring a compassionate and caring demeanour as well as a strong work ethic. If you don’t have patience in this job you’ll drive yourself crazy. These are teenagers, you need to trust yourself and trust the process you have put into place.
What are your weaknesses?
I have Irish and Scottish blood; we’re known to be stubborn
What has been your best career move?
Going to play hockey in Europe. It is where hockey-wise everything fell into place, my game got better and more consistent. As a person I matured into who I am today. It was a point where you are truly on your own and it’s either sink or swim. I took some time to figure myself out but once I did it became the best life experience. I came back a completely different person.
What has been your worst career move?
I don’t like to think that any decision I’ve made as best or worst; some moves work out better then others, statistically, and some teach your better lessons then others. I believe if you’re able to take something away from a situation then regardless of outcome it was worthwhile.
What’s your next big job goal?
I have truly enjoyed this chapter of my life in hockey. You realize how much there is to learn and give. As long as I am continuing to develop and get better as a coach I will be happy. With that being said, I am a competitor, I would love to push my skill set and make it to NHL from this side of the bench.
What’s your best advice to others who might want to follow in your footsteps?
Just believe in yourself.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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